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31 August 2011

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Louis Marks

RRP: £20.42

Release Date: 12th September 2011

Reviewed By: Dale Who for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 31st August 2011

The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) is called on by UNIT to investigate a particularly murderous ghost; and from there he and his assistant Jo Grant (Katy Manning) are drawn into a web of time paradoxes, guerilla warfare and history changing events, all sponsored by those persistent perambulating pests...The Daleks! Can our intrepid hero, aided by UNIT, save Earth from World War Three and invasion by the cantankerous Kaleds?

Every now and again, something very special comes along on a Doctor Who DVD that stops you in your tracks and leaves you slack-jawed as to it's brilliance. This is one of those instances. This story has one of the most ambitious, well-done and ridiculously brilliant extras you could ever wish for...more of that in a moment.

The two disc set, from the BBC2|Entertain stable has the usual hallmarks of Classic Who as it is now presented; the original programme has been cleaned up and looks pin sharp and sounds clear and crisp, and there's a raft load of extras that really should not be missed. Incidentally, for those of you who like inane trivia, the original version of the story is the only one in Who history that keeps the sting (that's the electronic howl from the cliffhanger into the Who theme) on the recaps of episodes two and three.

Disc One:

Commentary - Anna Barry and Jimmy Winston (Anat and Shura respectively) talk us through the story with the late, great Barry Letts, and script editor Terrance Dicks. Also on hand to talk technicalities is vision mixer Mike Catherwood. The whole commentary is nicely paced, fun, and very entertaining to listen to.

Blasting the Past - Cast and crew old and new look back at the original story, it's strengths and weaknesses and what made it so successful. On hand are Katy Manning, Anna Barry and Jimmy Winston who were there at the time, being menaced by Rick Newby, who was inside one of the Daleks. Also contributing to this look back are Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks, John Friedlander (maker of monsters), and with further commentary from Dave Owen from DWM, new series writer Paul Cornell, Classic Series writer Ben Aaronovitch, and voice of pretty much everything these days Nicholas Briggs. Again, this half hour documentary has been handled with a lightness of touch that makes it flow very easily, and is very enjoyable to watch. It happily wallows in nostalgia without getting bogged down in it.

A View From The Gallery - Mike Catherwood and Barry Letts talk about the changing way Doctor Who was filmed and vision mixed over the years, as well as the technology then compared with now. This twenty minute piece shows just how well the two men know their craft, and can talk about it without getting monotonous. An illuminating little feature, that gives a clue into just how much technical expertise went into producing television in the 1970s.

Nationwide - A short piece from the BBC's flagship magazine programme of the time about a junior school that made the silly, silly mistake of winning the Radio Times writing competition...first prize: one working, crabby, angry Dalek. This report shows the somewhat smaller than expected pepperpot arriving at the school and the kids' reactions to it. Amusing nostalgia...you'll see the Dalek and nearly die laughing.

Blue Peter - Peter Purves is joined in the BP studio by the original TARDIS prop (looking in an absolutely terrible state!) and three Daleks to look back on his time during Doctor Who. Again, it's all amusing nostalgia, and a rare glimpse of how BBC Children's TV communicated to their audience over thirty years ago. Do wear sunglasses whilst watching this, as some of the fashions on display could easily burn out your eyes.

Coming Soon Trailer - Courtesy of the Time Lords remotely steering the TARDIS, The Doctor and Jo pitch up on the planet Uxarieus to face off with Reverend Magister, a walking prune, a rather violent IMC robot and some terribly unhappy miners. Colony In Space is next month's Classic Doctor Who release!

With the usual Info Text (which this month tells you where to spot edits and bloopers and gives an exhaustive rundown of Dudley Simpson's score for the show), a Photo Gallery and Subtitles for those who may want or need them, it's a great DVD...but wait...that's JUST Disc One!

Disc Two:

Day of the Daleks: Special Edition - New FX! New scenes! New Music! More Daleks! More Ogrons! More UNIT troops! New Dalek Voices! It's Doctor Who, Jim, but not as we know it!

Now although it's obviously the same story, it really doesn't feel like it. The team have done a stunning job in fixing things that could have been done better with more time and money (e.g: the Daleks' floating monitor has been stabilised, so it no longer looks like the start of "Victoria Wood As Seen On TV"), and they've tackled the big issues people have had with the show over the years - they've also addressed in the extras on the second disc.

The Making of Day of the Daleks: Special Edition - The producer of this Special Edition shows us what prompted the upgrade, what's been done, and how. Very entertaining and clever, this documentary showcases the level of love and interest that's gone into the package - even to the extent of making a brand new Day-era Dalek for help with filming some scenes! With contributions from all those involved, this is a must see, and gives a great insight into the level of dedication given to this revamp of a Classic story.

Now And Then - The latest in the series of "How much has it changed since we filmed Doctor Who there?" gives us an overview of what became Auderly House, and the tunnel, to see what, if anything, has changed. Toby Hadoke narrates the short piece.

The UNIT Family: Part Two - In the second part of this series, we get to see the strong "family" that was UNIT. Featuring contributions from the three UNIT regulars (including the much missed Nicholas Courtney), as well as Barry Letts, Katy Manning, and Derek Ware amongst others, this goes a long way to explaining the logic and thought into giving the Third Doctor a decent backup team. It also has some rather entertaining admissions and anecdotes from the cast and crew, which endears it no end to the viewer - Richard Franklin in particular being remarkably entertaining and witty.

The UNIT Dating Conundrum - Apparently, there are some people in fandom who want to know the dates/time frame of UNIT's involvement in Doctor Who. Why they would want to know such a thing is a matter for discussion somewhere else, but in case you are one of those people, Toby Hadoke tries to piece it all together using the very few dates there are to go on. Terrance Dicks, Ben Aaronovitch, and Dave Owen don't help at all, and by the end of it poor Toby is being carted off in one of those special dinner jackets with the wrap around arms.

The Cheating Memory - Steve Broster goes on a journey to try and find out why Day of the Daleks was so different in reality from the memory of his six year old self. A fascinating extra, with input from a psychologist as well as the usual talking heads featured on this DVD; namely Nicholas Briggs and Ben Aaronovitch. It is something that most Doctor Who fans can relate to, having memories of something being insanely epic, scary, and frightening when you were little, only to watch it again and feel yourself deflate as the second viewing doesn't live up to your memories of the first. A wonderfully worthwhile piece, and very enlightening.

Day of the Daleks: Special Edition is a masterpiece. With both the original and the frankly amazing redux of the story on the release, it's bound to keep all parties happy. The new version is simply stunning, and well worth the time, money and effort spent on the release. This is a must buy, a simply-cannot-miss DVD, and bears repeated watching to find just what's been changed and updated. It's not all CGI Dalek rays, there's some very subtle tiny touches as well that make the release even more enjoyable when you discover them.

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